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University of Wisconsin–Madison
Poverty-related issues in the news, from the Institute for Research on Poverty

Tag: Cash assistance

General Assistance Program – Pennsylvania

What happens when you reinstate an anti-poverty program and no one knows about it?, By Alfred Lubrano, August 28, 2018, Philadelphia Inquirer: “Hungry people, experts will tell you, are always silent. On Tuesday, they lined up in a quiet queue in the courtyard of St. Francis Inn Ministries in Kensington, awaiting breakfast under a sapping morning sun. Many of them were sharp and savvy from living on the street, but they nevertheless were unaware of some rare good news for people in poverty…”

Immigrants and Public Benefit Programs

  • How Trump’s plan for immigrants on welfare could hurt a million New Yorkers, By Liz Robbins, August 13, 2018, New York Times: “Buying fresh vegetables for children, heating an apartment, using Medicaid to manage diabetes. Those are all legal means of support provided by the government for low-income residents of the United States. But a new rule in the works from the Trump administration would make it difficult, if not impossible, for immigrants who use those benefits to obtain green cards…”
  • As Trump considers penalties, Seattle-area immigrants turn down public benefits they’re entitled to claim, By Nina Shapiro, August 12, 2018, Seattle Times: “A hotel housekeeper with a working adult son, Hudith received food stamps that weren’t worth a lot — about $50 a month. But she was nervous. Though she was entitled to food stamps as a legal permanent resident from Mexico, and her three children were all born in the U.S., she heard from a friend that getting the benefit could be counted against her if she applied for citizenship. And she was planning to do just that. So she disenrolled…”

Public Assistance Programs

  • The outsize hold of the word ‘welfare’ on the public imagination, By Emily Badger, August 6, 2018, New York Times: “The federal program known as welfare delivers cash assistance to less than 1 percent of the United States population. This is far smaller than the share of those aided by food stamps, or by other government support like disability benefits, unemployment insurance, college grants and medical benefits. But none of those other social programs have captured the public imagination or pervaded American politics as thoroughly as welfare, a piece of the safety net that helps about 2.5 million people. Its outsize influence has remained — and could soon become larger — even as the program itself has shrunk to its smallest size…”
  • What we know about Trump’s proposal to punish immigrants who receive public benefits, By Nora Gámez Torres and Brenda Medina, August 9, 2018, Miami Herald: “Reports that the Trump administration is preparing to deny U.S. citizenship to immigrants who receive any sort of income-based public assistance have unleashed a wave of concern in South Florida. But the plan has not been approved yet, the published reports are confusing and it could be months before any change related to public benefits and immigration could be approved and take effect…”
  • Plan to punish immigrants for using welfare could boost G.O.P. candidates, By Michael D. Shear and Ron Nixon, August 7, 2018, New York Times: “The Trump administration is advancing a plan to punish legal immigrants for accepting food stamps, public housing and other government benefits they are entitled to — a strategy that appeals to conservatives and could help to galvanize Republican voters before the midterm elections…”
  • Sacramento welfare investigators track drivers to find fraud. Privacy group raises red flags, By Kellen Browning, August 10, 2018, Sacramento Bee: “Police in recent years have tapped into a vast database of license plate images to track drivers and solve crimes. Few people know, however, that Sacramento County welfare fraud investigators have been using that same data since 2016…”

Disability Financial Assistance – Ohio

Ohio budget bill ended cash assistance program for people with disabilities, By Jackie Borchardt, August 7, 2017, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “Gov. John Kasich and state lawmakers last month quietly eliminated a state safety net program that provided cash benefits to about 6,000 disabled Ohioans with little or no income.  The state stopped accepting new applications for the Disability Financial Assistance program July 1 — a change buried in the 3,300-page state budget bill…”

Guaranteed Basic Income

How to fix poverty: Why not just give people money?, By Nurith Aizenman, August 7, 2017, National Public Radio: “Young guys in dusty polo shirts. New moms holding their babies. Grandmas in bright head wraps. They’ve all gathered in a clearing for one of the village meetings when something remarkable happens. Practically every person’s cellphone starts tinkling. It’s a text alert from an American charity called GiveDirectly. Last fall, GiveDirectly announced that it will give every adult in this impoverished village in Kenya an extra $22 each month for the next 12 years — with no strings attached…”

TANF Program Enrollment – Oregon

Cash assistance cases still above pre-recession levels, By Claire Withycombe, July 24, 2017, East Oregonian: “The number of Oregonians receiving federal cash assistance remains higher than it was at the start of the Great Recession, but state analysts expect the number to shrink to pre-recession levels by early 2019…”

Welfare Reform – Washington, DC

District does an about-face on welfare reform with decision to keep helping long-term recipients, By Paul Duggan, July 24, 2017, Washington Post: “In 2011, long-term welfare recipients in the District had reason to be gravely worried, because the D.C. Council and then-Mayor Vincent C. Gray seemed intent on ending benefits entirely for families that had been on the rolls for longer than 60 months. The cutoff date, dubbed ‘the cliff,’ was set for October of this year, after which about 6,000 impoverished adults with roughly 12,000 children would be left to fend for themselves financially…”

State TANF Programs

States with more black people have less generous welfare benefits, study says, By Tracy Jan, June 6, 2017, Washington Post: “How much cash welfare assistance families in poverty receive largely depends on where they live, with welfare eroding in every state except Oregon during the past 20 years, according to a new study by the Urban Institute. The study, released Tuesday, unveils wide racial and geographic disparities in how states distribute cash welfare, known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)…”

Welfare Reform – Kansas

More Kansans will drop from welfare rolls as requirements stiffen, By Andy Marso, November 11, 2016, Salina Post: “For Ashlyn Harcrow, the sound of the train whistle brings up all kinds of thoughts she’d like to avoid.  Harcrow, 24, has been living at the Topeka Rescue Mission since July. The nonprofit homeless shelter has helped her stabilize as she recovers from domestic violence and tries to improve her mental health amid post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety.  But the mission, at 600 N. Kansas Ave., is right next to the tracks. As trains rumble through north Topeka, they remind Harcrow that she’s thought about using those tracks to take her own life.  ‘All these trains that go by here,’ she says, ‘it don’t help.’  Harcrow would like to leave the mission and get her own place. But it’s a financial impossibility until she gets her mental health on track so she can return to the workforce…”

Welfare Reform – Kansas

  • New Kansas law revives debate over welfare restrictions, By Megan Hart, May 17, 2016, Salina Post: “The legislative battle may be over, but the war of words continues about a bill that imposes new restrictions on Kansas welfare recipients. Gov. Sam Brownback signed Senate Bill 402 on Monday at the Statehouse flanked by legislative supporters of the measure. The new law lowers the lifetime limit for those receiving cash assistance under the Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) program from three years to two years, with the possibility of a one-year hardship extension. It also tightens work requirements and penalties for not cooperating with fraud investigations…”
  • Gov. Brownback signs new limits on welfare, Associated Press, May 17, 2016, Kansas City Star: “Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback touted the welfare limits he signed into law Monday as a way to free recipients from the grip of poverty, but critics argued some families could be left without a safety net during financial difficulties. The changes in public assistance eligibility are a continuation of the 2015 HOPE Act, a law designed to move families off of welfare and into the workforce. The new law will reduce the lifetime limit on cash assistance from 36 to 24 months, although the state can grant an extension of up to 12 months…”

Single Adults in Poverty – Ontario, CA

Ontario’s soaring poverty gap ‘starkest’ for single adults as welfare rates stagnate, By Laurie Monsebraaten, May 9, 2016, Toronto Star: “After five years on welfare, Pauline Bryant figures she was probably over-qualified to help others ‘get by on next to nothing’ as a part-time community engagement worker last year. Although the job gave Bryant an extra $600 a month, it didn’t provide medical benefits or enough money to escape welfare. But it eased her sense of isolation…”

Welfare Reform – Kansas

Kansas lawmakers approve ‘step therapy’ and welfare reform bill, By Melissa Hellmann (AP), May 2, 2016, Topeka Capital-Journal: “Kansas legislators approved a health and public welfare bill Monday that would reduce prescription drug costs within the state’s Medicaid program and make changes to eligibility for public assistance.  Senators voted 27-13 in favor of the measure early Monday after the House approved it in a 79-43 vote. The measure will now go to Gov. Sam Brownback, who has touted welfare reform in the past…”

Safety Net Programs for Poor Families

  • The end of welfare as we know it, By Alana Semuels, April 1, 2016, The Atlantic: “By the numbers, welfare reform was a success. More than 13 million people received cash assistance from the government in 1995, before the law was passed. Today, just 3 million do. ‘Simply put, welfare reform worked because we all worked together,’ Bill Clinton, who signed into law welfare reform, or the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, wrote in an op-ed in The New York Times in 2006. Clinton had campaigned on a pledge to ‘end welfare as we know it’ and today it is all too apparent that he succeeded…”
  • Welfare time limits save Michigan millions, but cost 32,090 families, By Emily Lawler, April 5, 2016, MLive: “Since Michigan enacted sweeping welfare changes nearly five years ago, more than $62 million has been saved. But for 32,090 families, those savings means they can never get cash assistance, even in the most dire of emergencies. In 2011, Michigan’s legislature tightened and started enforcing time limits on cash assistance, or what the state calls its Family Independence Program. The move was swift…”
  • Maine’s welfare policies have taken a turn, with dire consequences for kids, By Sandy Butler and Luisa Deprez, March 8, 2016, Bangor Daily News: “Changes in public policy motivated by politics, not facts, have been disastrous for Maine children. Since Congress passed ‘welfare reform’ 20 years ago, it has become increasingly clear that many of these so-called reforms have failed, leaving many parents and children in deeper poverty without sustainable employment. Many of these policies simply were not based in the realities of people’s lives and ignore the economic environment people are living in. They are unsupported by social science research or evidence and have left far too many families and children behind…”
  • Stripping D.C.’s poor families of their last income source, By Judith Sandalow, March 11, 2016, Washington Post: “Winter snowstorms send most parents into panic mode. When my boys were young, I remember doing the calculations. Are schools closed? Can I find someone to watch them? It’s even more of a burden for families struggling to make ends meet. Their list of questions grows more urgent. If I miss my shift at work, will I get fired? Is there enough food in the house to feed the kids? How are we going to stay warm when the heat’s been turned off..?”
  • Legislature battles over poverty – but agreement possible, By Matthew Albright, April 5, 2016, News Journal: “When DuPont Co. came calling, it took the General Assembly only days to pass a pair of corporate tax breaks worth tens of millions of dollars. But after Democrats and Republicans alike sprinted to protect high-end research and management jobs, lawmakers are now deliberating on how to help those on the opposite end of the income ladder – those languishing in poverty. Some of that discussion has already bogged down in familiar partisan battlefields, like debates over the minimum wage and the size and scope of a taxpayer-funded safety net…”

TANF Work Requirements – Ohio

Ohio wants easing of federal welfare-to-work rules, By Catherine Candisky, November 2, 2015, Columbus Dispatch: “Gov. John Kasich’s administration has asked federal regulators for greater flexibility in work requirements to help prepare welfare recipients for jobs. The Republican governor continues to support mandating work and education for most adults receiving public benefits. But state officials say federal rules are ‘overly prescriptive’ and make it difficult to prepare welfare recipients for jobs…”

Participation in Public Assistance Programs

  • What it really means to rely on food stamps and welfare, By Emily Badger, May 29, 2015, Washington Post: “Public dependence isn’t a permanent condition, although we often talk about people in need of government aid as if they constitute some kind of fixed class — as if welfare recipients have always needed welfare, as if the families on food stamps today are exactly the same ones on food stamps a decade ago.  The reality is that Americans who need government aid, like Americans living below the poverty line, represent a shifting population…”
  • 1 in 5 Americans receive government assistance: food stamps, welfare, Medicaid details, By Rich Exner, May 28, 2015, Cleveland Plain Dealer: “One in five Americans received monthly assistance from at least one of a variety of government programs throughout  2012, a report issued Thursday by the Census Bureau says. The report estimated that 52.2 million Americans — or 21.3 percent of the people in the United States — received assistance each month during 2012…”
  • Census: No. of Americans on assistance may be leveling off, By Jesse Holland (AP), May 28, 2015, Lexington Herald-Leader: “The once-increasing number of Americans getting some kind of public assistance from the U.S. government may be slowing down, according to new information from the U.S. Census Bureau. Approximately 52.2 million Americans — or 21.3 percent — participated in one or more of six poverty assistance programs on average each month in 2012, a new Census report released Thursday said. Although higher than the 20.9 percent found in 2011, government officials said the 2012 number is not a statistically significant change from the previous year’s.

Welfare Time Limits – Arizona

Arizona sharply limits welfare to 12 months, Associated Press, May 20, 2015, Arizona Republic: “Facing a $1 billion budget deficit, Arizona’s Republican-led Legislature has reduced the lifetime limit for welfare recipients to the shortest window in the nation. Low-income families on welfare will now have their benefits cut off after just 12 months. As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state’s federally funded welfare program on July 1, 2016…”

Cash Assistance and Work Requirements – Ohio

Ohio counties kick people off welfare to satisfy feds, By Josh Jarman, March 13, 2015, Columbus Dispatch: “Threatened with the loss of millions of dollars in federal money because not enough of its welfare recipients were working, Franklin County did what many other counties across the state did: It kicked people off welfare.  Instead of helping more of Franklin County’s poorest residents find jobs in the years following the Great Recession, the county slashed the unemployed from its welfare caseload. That raised the percentage of the remaining participants who were working.  And that’s the only benchmark the federal government requires counties to meet to keep getting money…”

Welfare-to-Work Programs

  • ‘Welfare-to-work’ brings $455,000 into county, By Anna Rumer, February 27, 2015, Zanesville Times Recorder: “Muskingum County’s ‘welfare-to-work’ program is one of the most effective in the state, bringing nearly a half-million dollars in state funding into the county while providing almost 250 people with a second chance at gainful employment.  The Ohio Work Incentive Program, commonly referred to as ‘welfare-to-work,’ is a collaboration between local human services and OhioMeansJobs that allows people receiving cash assistance to forgo their usual 130 hours of work programs required per month to collect welfare and connects them to a paying job…”
  • From welfare to work: Massachusetts Senate to focus on developing path for aid recipients to fill jobs, By Shira Schoenberg, February 17, 2015, MassLive: “The Massachusetts Senate plans to use the upcoming legislative session to develop a strategy to move more people off welfare and into jobs, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, said Tuesday.  ‘Not long ago, Massachusetts was the pioneering state on workfare,’ Rosenberg said. ‘Massachusetts in recent years has fallen significantly behind most other states and is one of worst performing in the country in helping people move from welfare to work.’  The effort, referred to as the ‘WorkFirst Initiative,’ will be led by state Sen. Marc Pacheco, D-Taunton, and will involve coordination between legislative committees that deal with the economy, education, families and public assistance…”
  • California senator says ‘welfare queen’ law must go, By Christopher Cadelago, February 22, 2015, Sacramento Bee: “The law passed two decades ago, with Democrats in charge of the Legislature: In California, a family that conceives and births an additional child while on welfare is barred from getting an increase in its grant.  Today, with Democrats still in the majority, the measure’s base of support is eroding. Advocates for the poor are mounting their strongest effort yet to repeal the so-called ‘maximum family grant’ rule, a big-ticket spending item that could bleed into state budget talks…”

Safety Net Programs and the Poor

Aid to needy often excludes the poorest in America, By Patricia Cohen, February 16, 2015, New York Times: “The safety net helped keep Camille Saunders from falling, but not Charles Constance. The difference? Ms. Saunders has a job, and Mr. Constance does not. And therein lies a tale of a profound shift in government support for low-income Americans at a time when stagnating wages and unstable schedules have kept many workers living near or below the poverty line. Assistance to needy Americans has grown at a gallop since the mid-1980s, giving a hand up to the disabled, the working poor and married couples with children. At the same time, though, government aid directed at the nation’s poorest individuals has shrunk…”